If you’re passionate about your photography hobby, it may be time to turn it into a profitable career. Alongside becoming better at your craft, finding ways to monetize your work is key into remaining a photographer long-term.
There are so many ways you can approach making money from photography, so here is our list of 10 ways to make money as a photographer- right now!
How Profitable is Photography?
Photography, like all art careers, has the potential of being very profitable. The key to success lies in what kind of photography you get into and how good you are at pushing that idea. Photography can quickly become a full-time endeavor, or it can easily remain a part-time passion.
Wedding photography is very profitable, with the average wedding photographer earning around $3,000 per wedding- but can be a very difficult photography niche to break into. Pet photography and family photography is always in demand, no matter the economy, but that industry can be saturated.
All things to keep in mind when starting your photography work endeavor.
Ways to Make Money from Photography
Here are 10 ways that many photographers are making a profit off of their artwork.
1. Running a Photography Business
Of course, the primary way to make an income as a photographer is to open and run your own photography business. With this method, you keep 100% of the profits (excluding the finances you have to invest back into your business) and act as a fully independent entity.
However, running a photography business is much harder than it sounds. You become your own boss and have to manage every aspect of business- from the accounting to the clients. It’s not just “pick up a camera, shoot, and collect income.”
That being said, most of the world’s most successful photographers have their own business. There is tremendous room for growth here, the autonomy to run your service however you see fit, and you will be known for your photography work independent of anyone else. .
2. Working as an Associate Shooter
An associate shooter is someone who shoots events or sessions on behalf of another photographer. This is most common in wedding and event photography, if a wedding photography company is too booked up or unavailable, they will send an associate shooter.
The associate shooter does not edit the images or cull them, but instead, hands them over to whomever they are working on behalf of.
This is a great way to work somewhat independently (associates often shoot alone) but still be earning an hourly wage. Because there is no editing involved for the most part, associates can just make an income on the hours they work and come home to relax, much like traditional 9-to-5 jobs.
The downside is that the photography has no autonomy and will not be able to put their name on the images produced. They will remain anonymous, in the eyes of the public.
3. Working as a Second or Third Shooter
Also a prevalent staple in wedding and event photography, a second or third shooter is a photographer that works alongside a lead photographer. At weddings, second shooters tend to capture another angle during a ceremony or capture the groom and groomsmen while the lead photographer captures the bride and bridesmaids.
This is a lower-stress position than being an associate, because you’re following the direction of the lead photographer. Second shooters do not edit the images, they turn over the memory cards to the lead photographer and get paid for their hourly work.
4. Working under a Studio Company
This is the most consistent way to earn an income as a photographer. Large company often have photo studios and they hire photographers to work in these studios. Similar to an associate shooter, working under a studio company provides an hourly wage for your work. Unlike an associate, you will be editing the images yourself.
Some studios allow photographers to be credited for their work, but others prefer their photographers to be anonymous and operate under the veil of the studio.
5. Selling Photographs as Stock Images
If you have photographs lying around that aren’t being used for anything, selling them as stock images can be a way to make some passive income as a photographer. The stock agency takes care of the sales and handles all of the licensing uses, and you get a direct deposit or check.
Make note that the income from stock images tends to be fairly low unless your image is frequently purchased. But hey, an image that is at least making some money is better than keeping it sitting on a hard drive making no money!
6. Selling Prints
Photography as an artform really shines when printed. Selling prints of your work is an excellent way of making money as a photographer. With the internet at your disposal, it is now easier than ever to sell prints.
You can partner with a print lab or a service that will print-on-demand and drop ship to your clients. You can contact an art gallery and sell through them. You can even set up at the beach or on the side of a designated sidewalk and sell prints!
7. Licensing Images through GettyImages and Similar Companies
Much more lucrative than selling stock, having your images licensed for use through a licensing company such as GettyImages is an excellent means of making a profit on photography. You fill out an application and then begin submitting images that are on-demand or requested by these agencies, and then receive royalties from licensing.
8. Starting a Photography Blog
Photography blogs are a great way to share your thoughts, attract clients, build a community, and make money! Although many don’t think of the financial aspect of a photography blog, you can sell ad-space on your blog and make a profit from that.
9. Enter Photography Competitions
Photography competitions have two big perks: you can get your artwork in front of a mass audience and you can win cash prizes. What’s there to lose?
There are many different types of photography competitions. Some are local to your area, others are national, and the big ones are international. Look into the one that works best for your work.
10. Teach a Photography Class
Teaching is a wonderful way to make an income as a photographer. By pursuing education, you are inspiring the next generation of photographers and motivating people to pursue their passions. Teaching is also a very profitable way to partner your photography knowledge with helping the community.
Tips for Making Money from Photography
In addition, in order to make any of the above work well for you, keep the following four tips in mind:
1. Grow a Following
In order to be successful, people have to know who you are! If you’re wanting to go down the route of opening your own photography business or selling prints, growing a following of loyal viewers is key.
The power of the internet makes this a much easier endeavor, as social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram can help a budding photographer reach a massive audience.
Make sure that you are posting consistent, beautiful, and quality images in order to attract followers. Post at the right time and utilize the advertising services provided by the platforms. Engage and interact with the community and get to know those that are interested in your work. Your numbers will steadily grow, and eventually, will start hiring you or buying from you.
2. Learn and Utilize the Fundamental Concepts of Business
Making money in anything requires an understanding of business. Learn the core fundamentals of running a successful business and that will aid you in your photographic pursuits. You can take free courses online or purchase business administration textbooks.
3. Apply and Email Everywhere You Can!
The worst you can get is a “no”, which doesn’t change your current position for the worse. Look at different photography studios, companies, and galleries and cold email them with your inquiry. It’s good to show that initiative. You never know who might write back!
4. Mentor Under a Successful Photographer
Sometimes the best way to learn how to do something well is to be mentored by someone who is doing well. Look into local mentorships or photographers that are currently offering it. You can learn the ins and outs by being from the inside.
In conclusion, go ahead and try the above ideas (you can do more than one at a time) and see where that takes you!